Long Island vs. Staten Island: Which Is The Best Island?

This iconic Long Island sign is not actually located on Long Island. You can find it in Long Island City, Queens. (Photo by King of Hearts / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0)

By John Wells

New York is an amazingly diverse state, offering all kinds of environments for people who want to live their lives to the fullest. However, before you decide to move to the Big Apple and its surrounding area, you may want to explore all of the different areas, and pick the one which suits you the best. In this process, people often start thinking about Staten Island and Long Island—which one is better to live in?

While this is an obviously subjective thing, we’ll try to give you a quick overview of both areas, from which you can draw enough meaningful conclusions to reach an informed decision.

Map of Long Island and boroughs of New York City. (Image source: Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Tale of Two Islands

Before you relocate anywhere, you want to know a lot of things about that area first—including what kind of school districts are available, or what types of job opportunities you can expect. And in that regard, Long Island and Staten Island are no exceptions. Which is why we’ll start off with a quick look at both areas.

So, both of these regions have something in common—they’re islands that are a part of the proud state of New York. While Staten Island is one of the actual five boroughs that make up New York City, Long Island is different in that regard. The latter starts at the edges of New York Harbor, and it’s the biggest island found in the contiguous United States. Plus, it’s the most densely populated island out of any found in the entirety of U.S. territories. Conversely, Staten Island represents one of the most sparsely populated areas in New York City. But that doesn’t mean that Staten Island is much worse off in and of itself, as you’ll realize soon below.

Both islands have their champions. Poet and fiction writer Claire Jimenez released Staten Island Stories in 2019, which shone a literary spotlight on what defines the island she grew up on. Long Island has a rich literary history and is particularly known for being the birthplace of Walt Whitman, widely recognized as America’s greatest poet.

The Staten Island Ferry brings commuters to and from Manhattan for free. (Image by skeeze from Pixabay)

Staten Island

As you probably know already, New York City has five different boroughs, which represent its administrative division at the county level. These include the city of New York itself, as well as the southern areas of the entire state. And while Staten Island is among the larger boroughs in terms of square mileage, it’s also one of the boroughs with the smallest population. It’s even referred to as the “forgotten borough”—and it’s a part of Richmond County.

In terms of demographics, the most notable thing about Staten Island is the fact that it has a majority of non-Hispanic white people, the only borough in the state of New York with that kind of population makeup. If we take a look at the economic outlook of the island, we’ll realize that it’s pretty stratified. In other words, the North Shore is the urbanized, more densely populated part with a lot of residential areas; while West Shore is more industrialized, with fewer people actually living there.

Speaking of economics and work—what’s the commute like in Staten Island? Or, in other words, how well connected is it to the rest of the state? Well, you can go straight to Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry; pretty handy, since it’s free to use. You can also visit Brooklyn by going over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Interestingly enough, Staten Island was home to the biggest landfill in the world, before it was closed back in 2001.

Montauk Point is the easternmost point of Long Island. (Photo by Ronald Diel via Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Long Island

Now that we’ve got an idea of the local living conditions in Staten Island, we have to wonder what Long Island is like in this regard? First of all, it’s worth noting that Long Island is a much bigger area than Staten Island, though it’s not a borough itself. It makes up the southern tip of the state of New York, and it starts about a mile from Manhattan; extending to the East into the Atlantic Ocean. The island itself is separated from the New York mainland by the Long Island Sound in the north.

Long Island is actually made up out of four New York State counties: Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, and Kings; though Long Island is a name only used for Suffolk and Nassau in colloquial communication. Speaking of the local geography—Long Island is a pretty fitting name, seeing as it’s the actual longest island in the vicinity of the continental United States. A lot of the residents of New York City actually live on Long Island, geographically speaking, so it’s a place with a lot of ethnic and cultural diversity, and interesting history.

Where Should I Live?

At the end of the day, you’re most probably wondering which of these two islands is better for living. And the answer to that is, as you might’ve guessed—that it depends entirely on your personal life and habits. On the one hand, Staten Island has been getting some commercial investment in the past couple of years, but the median pay is still significantly smaller than in Long Island. On the other hand, you should also keep in mind that the heftier paychecks of Long Island are in cohesion with the local real estate prices. Both property expenses and everyday living costs are significantly smaller in Staten Island, so that’s something to consider if you’re working with a limited budget.

Also, Long Island is, at least these days, perhaps more diverse in the amenities it offers as well. If you’re someone who likes visiting downtown areas with interesting pubs and bars, it’s something you’ll find in a bigger abundance in Long Island.

Conclusion

As you can see, both Long Island and Staten Island have their pros and cons, though we’d wager that those who can afford Long Island will have a better time here. With that in mind, why not check out all of the nice residential areas, trendy restaurants, and everything else this amazing island has to offer!

John Wells is a freelance author from Jersey, mostly writing about the real estate and moving industries in the tristate area. When he’s not talking about companies like Tik Tok Moving and Storage Queens, he enjoys swimming and all water-based sports.

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In addition to its arts and entertainment publication Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group publishes 16 community newspapers, several magazines, specialty publications and websites. With brands dating back to 1877, Anton has a commitment to deliver trusted and relevant content to the communities it serves.

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